When Google Glass became available to the public, promising a new era of augmented reality. With hands-free, voice-controlled device projected information and images directly to the user’s eyes, augmenting their everyday visual experience.
The idea of augmented reality has not completely failed with Google committing to a redesign of Glass, Microsoft is developing the Microsoft HoloLens, and Magic Leap developing its unique glass. The idea of people going about their daily life with a visual computer overlay has yet to be capitalized on. That is until Pokémon Go was released.
Within one week of the July 6, 2016 release, Pokémon Go became the most popular mobile application of all time. Niantic – a Google spinoff – successfully created unencumbered augmented reality environment where virtual Pokémon were inserted into “real locations” around the world. Players of all ages were encouraged to wander around trying to “catch ‘em all,” While no one can argue the app’s success, should there not be a better way to interact with it? Do we really need to stare into our phone to find those hidden creatures?
There is potential for an even better experience, and it came and went two years ago. Imagine playing Pokémon Go within the confines of an actual augmented reality. No more staring down into your smartphone while narrowly avoiding real-world obstacles. With Glass, when there is a Pokémon to catch, it will appear right in front of you. No matter how amazing or innovative a technology feels, unless it offers end users something they feel they need and not just a temporary distraction, it will not be adopted. As expected, advertisers are clamouring to get a piece of the augmented reality action
Instead of the annoying interruption of in-app marketing where app developers will not allow a user to continue playing until they view an ad, advertisers can now be a part of the game and actually improve the user experience. Want to get more foot traffic to your store? Run a banner in Pokémon Go that when clicked will direct the user there and give them the chance to catch more Pokémon. Such integration would change the user’s perception of in-game advertising.
The benefits of augmented reality are not just limited to gaming. Snapchat, is currently exploring the prospect of using image recognition to identify objects in your videos so that they can advertise those products to you at a later time.
New York has added Internet kiosks throughout that can identify users as they pass and deliver a personalized experience, showing them customized ads and potentially – with the utmost caution to protect a user’s individual privacy – engage with them by using the built-in camera in these kiosks.
With augmented reality apps, and the newfound willingness for users to allow themselves to be augmented, we are entering a new era in targeted advertising. Search engine marketing and, in particular, Google’s keyword-based advertising system, allowed marketers to serve ads that had high relevance to what a user was actually searching.
Programmatic display has helped to target users more precisely, but the fact remains we are shoving a sometimes-unwanted ad in someone’s face in the hopes that they find it interesting enough to click.
With growing user acceptance of augmented reality, we will be able to actually see where users are, what they are interested in, and create advertisements that they will deem a welcome part of their experience. The potential for positively engaging end users with advertising has never been greater and users may be happy to see them.